Interview with So Youn Lee for “Limpid”

Thinkspace is proud to present So Youn Lee’s newest body of work ‘Limpid’ in our project room this Saturday, January 7th. The San Francisco-based artist creates a pastel-colored filled world of whimsy as her character Mango explores Lee’s analys of emotions. In anticipation of her upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with So Youn Lee to discuss her inspiration, Mango’s fruition to being, a day in the studio, and so much more.

Join us at the opening of ‘Limpid’ Saturday, January 7th from 6 to 9 pm. 

SH: What is the inspiration behind your latest body of work?
SYL: Limpid is a body of work inspired by the concept of nostalgia. I was visualizing the emotional perceptions of nostalgia in my paintings. It molds certain moods for the character and color scheme for this body of work. Light green and soft-gelatin like clear textures which reminds me of whimsical time in youth.

SH: Can you explain who Mango is and how Mango came to be?
SYL: Mango is a fruit as you know, and I call my characters ‘Mango’ in my colored works. I got inspired by its color, texture, and taste. When I first started to draw my new character, it looked so weird to me but senselessly cute. It reminds me of my very first encounter with the taste and textures of a Mango. The texture was so foreign but so delicious at the same time.

SH: What is your creative process? Walk us through a day in the studio?
SYL: I have my regular studio time after breakfast Monday to Friday. I go out for inspiration hunting and relax on the weekends. If I have to create new work, I start from sketches on scratch paper to transfer a composition according to the images that I already have in my mind when I think of the concept or subject. It’s like I excavate visual responses from my mind about the subject on a drawing/ painting surface in physical world. When the sketch is done, I transfer it on a painting surface that I love to use whether canvas or panel.

SH: People have described your work as innocent, how do you feel about that description? What does innocence mean to you?
SYL: I consider it as compliment, when I think of the term ‘innocent’ it feels like there’s pure potential to be or to do anything we like to do. So if my work evokes those feelings to the audience, I am happy and I’m glad it gives a positive image and feeling to the audience that sees it.

SH: What is your favorite childhood memory? What aspects of childhood do you think help us to navigate the adult world?
SYL: I use to love spending time in nature by myself as a child, imagining many beautiful and weird things. Those imaginations helped me to become a person to work in a creative field. The freedom that we have had to explore things in our own ways in childhood could influence and mold us as an adult.

SH: How has your artistic style developed over the years?
SYL: I was lucky to have had many shows the past three years, I’ve learned more things about my own desires as an artist. It has affected me to try different mediums and approaches in my paintings.

SH: What do you enjoy doing when not painting?
SYL: Reading, playing with Choco and relaxing when I have a chance.

SH: What do the helmets represent in your work?
SYL: In this show, I don’t have any artwork with a helmet. I paint helmets when figures from two different worlds meet in one space in my paintings. The helmet is a symbol of being open-minded to understand someone or something beyond prejudice and perception or see things from a different perspective.

SH: What excites you about another artist’s work? What makes you a fan and can you share a few people we should look up?
SYL: I admire artists who have very distinctive visions and evoke strong emotional presence in their works. There are so many, and most of them, you must know them already. My all time favorite is Yoshitomo Nara.

SH: How long does one piece take to complete? Do you work on multiple pieces at a time?
SYL: It really depends on the size and medium. Yes, I have a tendency to work on multiple pieces at a time.

SH: Kicking off the year with an exhibition seems like a solid way to start the year, what are a few of your goals for 2017?
SYL: I will continue to do my best to improve myself as an artist and travel more.

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